First time training with a Gracie

While staying in Denmark, I had the rare opportunity to train with the first UFC Champion Royce Gracie at CSA Academy. As you most likely know, he is a son of the legendary Helio Gracie, the co-founder of the entire art of Gracie/Brazilian Jiu Jitsu. For me this was a very special day, because his books "Ultimate Fighting Techniques" were what brought me to Brazilian Jiu Jitsu. I picked the first one up at a local bookstore in Hong Kong in 2005 and I guess I kinda never put it down. So it wasn't really seeing UFC that made me do the switch from stand up arts to grappling but a book about it.

The seminar had a really good format with a sequence of techniques suiting even the people new to jiu jitsu. First, only one technique was shown, then another but you did them both in sequence and so on. This session would actually be perfect after a basic course to tie together the basic concepts of jiu jitsu.

A quick overview on what we were doing

- Pummel for double underhooks and take down by bending the back
- Step to mount
- Walk his hand up and try a modified side choke from mount
- If opponent doesn't tap, secure his wrist from around his head and get a figure four grip, push him to his side with your head and then your chest. Secure back mount, spread the chicken and choke with mata leao.
- If opponent resist the push, you go for technical mount and go for an armbar. There was a really good detail about pinning the arm to the mat for the technique to work better, but for the details you will have to attend one of his seminars
- Finally there were 2 counters to armbar defense (bicep slicer and a triangle)

I recognised some of the techniques from the book that got me here, which was pretty sweet. I also got some advice from the man himself and the few assistant instructors he brought with him. I wasn't so lucky when I tried to figure out the techiques in the book for the first time :).

As a final excercise we played Jiu Jitsu chess, where you could do one move then the opponent would counter with one move and so on. This was a very interesting game because you could have unlimited time to think about your next move without any time pressure.

An interesting curiosity was that Royce was wearing a dark blue belt instead of a black belt. The dark blue was apparently given to people who passed the Gracie instructor's course while his father was teaching it. I also remember Helio preferring to wear a blue belt instead of his normal red belt. Royce wearing this cool belt means I of course outrank him and he wanted to take this cool photo with me :)

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